Darlene

November 29, 2020

Oh Emily calls it “catching feelings.” I’m having a hard time catching feelings for this Christmas tree.

I prefer the concolor tree because it has a citrus scent. It’s delightful. None of the tree lots have concolor down here, so we always go up to the mountains where we have found one tree farm that grows concolor. But that makes for a long day. One year our concolor Big Betty belly flopped on the living room floor and broke the tree stand and crushed several sentimental ornaments. Twice we’ve had trees that died before Christmas. With all that drama, I didn’t want to invest a day in a mountain trip just to end up with a dead tree or one that might throw a temper tantrum in the living room. A few years ago, Grace bought us an artificial tree. Poor, dead, crunchy concolor Eliza Jane got kicked to the curb, and Grace’s Botox Bertha has taken the place of honor in the living room ever since.

The decision to go to town to get a Frazier fir on Thanksgiving night was made on the fly as we finished up our dinner. We didn’t even clear the table before we piled into 2 cars and headed for Clemmons. Em and I rode with Alesia (yeah you for getting your license), and Paul and Grace rode with Lauren. It was a comfortable night to be outside with a light jacket. Just a little brisk evening air. And it was so foggy. Alesia and I both commented about how foggy it was. The lot had those overhead strands of light bulbs and it seemed well-lit enough to pick the perfect tree. Maybe it was the cool evening air, the lights shining through the fog, the satisfaction of a full belly. Maybe it was just a magical moment, but we found her. Our new Christmas tree. Darlene.

The point in getting the tree Thanksgiving night was so we could all be together to decorate. But Paul’s effort ended after getting the tree upright in the tree stand. Em holed up in her room. Lauren and Alesia went to Alesia’s house. So Grace and I decorated Darlene, and we did a great job. Two strands of preprogrammed lights and two strands of regular blinkers. All our fave ornaments. Handmade treasures the girls made each year in elementary school. My NC cardinal. The precious tea cup from Graylyn Estate. Grace’s UNCSA pickle. Emily’s giant pink polka dot monogram. Lauren’s 2nd grade snow ball ornament. Some “antique” ornaments from our first married Christmas 150 years ago. And the family ornaments we have made each year at the mall kiosk with each of our names and the year.

Maybe the problem was that I romanticized the whole process of finding the perfect tree. Maybe it was the wine from dinner. Maybe my judgement was skewed. I’m just gonna be honest. Uugghh. She’s got a great personality. She’s not hard to look at. It’s just that…well…I wouldn’t have chosen Darlene if I’d had a good look at her in the light of day. There. I said it. Hate me. Darlene Frazier isn’t the concolor fir tree of my dreams. But if I can’t be with the one I love, I’ll love the one I’m with. (But I’m really struggling to love Darlene.)

I don’t know what the deal is with her branches. Everything about her branches annoys me. Some of them point nearly and unnaturally straight up, while others droop. And the droop is not attractive. I’ve resorted to securing metal ornament hooks to an upper sturdy branch to tack up a lower droopy branch. The pine tree version of breast tape to give a girl a little lift, if you know what I mean. And you can’t hang ornaments on branches that flop and droop. She’s already lost 3 baubles. Smashed and broken on the floor because she loosed her grip on them. I had to Gorilla Glue Emily’s head back on the 2017 ornament. Thanks Darlene.

Meanwhile in the front room…Botox Bertha got all gussied up today. Yes, we’ve become the 2 Christmas tree household. Since Darlene took all the usual ornaments, Lauren helped me pick out all new jewelry for Bertha. We decided on silver, white, gray, and red. And Emily helped me fluff up Botox Bertha’s branches, and dress her up real pretty. Our designer tree seems just about perfect.

It’s not fair for me to compare Botox Bertha to Darlene. One is artificial and the other is real. All of Botox Bertha’s jewels are brand new and matching. Darlene has a hodgepodge collection of plastic, metal, paper, ceramic, glass, home made, and store bought ornaments of various colors, shapes, sizes, and styles. It’s a sad tale as old as time…a fake, plastic beauty outshining the gal with a few natural imperfections. I feel bad about judging Darlene so harshly. She seems to be taking up water just fine so far. Hopefully she won’t dry up and be a fire hazard before Santa comes. I need to lighten up on the girl and appreciate her inner beauty. She’ll be here with us in the living room for a good month still to come. We will make Christmas memories around Darlene’s tree skirt. We will laugh and celebrate give thanks and enjoy our precious family time. Darlene won’t be with us next year, but I’ll remember her fondly (maybe).

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